Wednesday, October 22, 2008

We Stood Outside of the Chicago Theatre . . .

. . . that was LJ, several of her friends, and I. The Swell Season had finished a two-hour set and we stood in the night, going over the highs and lows of the show. Jeremy and I were comparing this night's performance to the Sunday night concert when a vagrant approached me.

With a white beard, red face, and protruding gut he looked like a Vietnam Vet incarnate of Santa Claus. He stood in my face and wagered a bet through his whiskey breath.

"Sir," he says. "You look like a strong man. You've got shoulders. I want you to punch me in the stomach as hard as you can. If you can make my knee bend, I owe you a drink. If not, then you owe me a drink."

He stretched out his legs, stuck out his stomach and braced himself for the blow, as if the bet had been agreed upon.

"No, I can't hit a stranger. And besides, I'm not very strong." I pointed to a man nearby. "That guy - he looks strong. Go ask him."

"That guy's not strong. You - you're strong." He re-assumed his stance.

"You got to be careful with this. You know this is how Houdini died."

"I'm better than Houdini!"

"I don't know. Houdini was pretty good. . . for a Jew."

Apparently, antisemitism is where this guy drew the line. He turned to walk away, but first pointed at LJ. She quickly ducked behind me. "I just have to say. You're gorgeous, and this is coming from a 45-year old gay man. You are beautiful." He shifts to another group standing under the marquee.

We bid each other goodnight. Each of us left in a different direction.

As I turned the corner onto Lake, I heard the sound of a punch, followed by cheers.

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